The backbone of the American higher education system

June 17, 2014

Jeffrey Selingo wrote a compelling piece in the Chronicle yesterday on the role of the bachelor’s degree. This article brought up a very central and timely question in higher education – how can we better serve today’s students and their needs through their college education?

It’s an important issue. In the past, a college education wasn’t required in order to advance financially, and a degree was mainly used to get a broad general education. The job-training aspect was intended to come later, in professional schools or from an employer itself. Today, owners of bachelor’s degrees have many expectations of what it should provide. It is expected that a bachelor’s degree should help students mature, train them to have critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and most importantly, “prepare graduates to step immediately into high-skills employment.”

How can we help all of today’s students get what they want out of their degrees? We know that college students today are extremely diverse. They come from all different ages and backgrounds. Jeff puts it plainly, “Those students deserve a new bachelor’s degree that better meets both their varied needs and aspirations and the requirements of today’s economy. It’s time to rethink the purpose of the degree and offer more flexibility as to when, where, and how students acquire it.”

There are exciting developments taking place in higher education today. With initiatives such as competency-based curriculum and self-paced options for earning a degree, today’s learners are given more options that fit their life and their expectations. However, we need to keep this momentum moving forward. Until the majority of business leaders say college graduates are ready for their jobs, until all college graduates say their degree helped move them forward in their career, until more people are able to have the opportunity to earn a degree, our work is not done.

Jeff’s article in the Chronicle is located here.

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